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Do you work at a desk? Spend long hours in the car? Maybe you spend every weekend sitting on the couch to binge watch your favorite shows or because you have an old knee injury.
In case you haven’t heard, sitting for prolonged hours is referred to as
“The New Smoking”.
Studies have shown that sitting for too long puts you at high risk for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and harmful fat around your midsection – even more than smoking. With more of us working from home, those risks are increasing.
When you’re sitting for long periods, you burn less calories and put more pressure on your spine -and let's be honest, the longer you sit, the more you eat.
I’ve often recommended to patients to take a 5- minute stretch/walk break for every hour that they sit. However, I understand that there are just times that taking a break from sitting every hour may not be feasible, but no worries!
I have 5 easy ways that you can burn calories while you sit!
1. Sit On A Different Chair
How can more sitting lead to burning more calories? Sitting on a balance/stability ball, burns more calories than sitting in your high-backed executive chair or couch. How?
When you sit on a stability ball chair, it requires you to work your abdominal muscles to hold the seated position. This burns more calories than sitting in a regular chair AND the flexibility of the ball is easier on your low back.
To burn even more calories, you can add movement like rocking your hips from side-to-side as you sit on the ball. If you’re not the most coordinated person, you may be picturing yourself rolling off in front of your co-workers? No worries, I have you covered!
There are balance ball chairs with a base that has legs and a chair back. But, if you’re up for the challenge, you can use a balance ball without the base and use it to sit on at home on the weekends or in your home office.
In case you’re wondering, the ball won’t pop underneath you like a balloon. Most balance balls hold up to 2000 pounds!
2. March In Place
You may be thinking, “How am I going to march if I’m sitting down?” There’s good news!
Marching can be done while you’re seated! Seated marching can help you burn calories while you sit and it can be done several times during the day while you work! Here's how to do it:
1. Simply sit on the edge of your chair (or sit on your balance ball).
2. For extra balance, hold on to the sides of your chair or the desk in front of you.
3. Raise one knee, and then the other, in a marching motion.
4. Aim to do this at least 1 minute at a time.
*If you are able to balance, swing your arms as you march in your seat. This will even add steps to your FitBit!
3. Ride a Bike
Riding a bike while sitting in a chair seems like some kind of confusing riddle, but you can pedal while you sit in your office chair or on your couch!
An under the desk pedal bike is an inexpensive way to bring the gym to your chair. You simply place pedal bike under your desk or in front of your couch, put your feet on the pedals, and pedal away!
Most desk pedal bikes will keep track of the distance and time that you’ve been riding. In less than an hour, you can burn over 100 calories just by pedaling while you sit!
Think about all of the hours you sit at work or sit on the couch at home – burning that amount of calories can lead to huge victories on the scale!
4. Jumping Jacks - Minus The Jump
You probably learned about jumping jacks when you we’re a kid, so the movements of this exercise are very familiar.
Instead of using your legs, move your arms up over your head and down to your side, just as you would with a jumping jack. This move not only burns calories, but it helps you to stretch your upper back and shoulders.
When you sit for prolonged periods, the muscles in your upper back take a beating. This move will help decrease the sore muscles and tension that you have at the end of the day.
5. Calorie -Friendly Snacks ONLY
This last tip doesn’t involve any movement at all, but it may be the hardest one to do. Think back to last time that you over did it on snacking. Were you sitting down or standing up? Most likely not the latter.
It’s soooo easy to eat an entire bag of chocolate-covered-anything or potato chips while you’re sitting. What you eat while you’re sitting has a direct impact on the number of calories you burn.
Instead of sitting down with an entire tray of cookies, read the nutritional label to find out how may calories are in a serving and eat that amount of cookies or less.
Just to leave you with a lasting impression of how crucial this tip is, the big bag of Doritos has 1400 calories!
If you want to be able to eat more while you watch This Is Us, grab snacks that under 100 calories, like grapes so you don’t feel cheated.
I’ve often been told and on occasions I’ve said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. When it comes to weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle, this saying holds true.
Don’t let the fact that you work from home or have bad knees get in the way of you reaching your health goals!
Making small, consistent steps towards your health every day is the key to living your healthiest life! It can be done and you’ve got this!